Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The BNP in Scotland

Whilst the BNP’s hold on reality can be tenuous at the best of times, this, from their candidate standing in a council election in Aboyne, struck me as one of the more bizarre political utterances I’ve heard for some while:
Northeast Scotland British National Party activists were met with a fantastic reception in Aboyne when they turned out to help in a local election campaign, reports local candidate Roy Jones.

"This has been a very encouraging response from a small rural community in Alford," Mr Jones told BNP News. "We found a number of former SNP voters who expressed great interest in the BNP, mainly for the fact that the SNP is now actively courting the Muslim vote. The former SNP voters are most certainly opposed to living in an Islamic state under sharia law, and feel that this is something the SNP supports," he said

Hmmmm...on a number of counts there.
Might be worth checking the result at the end of the month there just out of interest.

This news belongs to a slightly firmer variety of reality and is all the more welcome for that:
CONSERVATIVES that are to stand for the European Parliament have said they will not share a platform with candidates from the far-right BNP.
For the first time, the BNP will field six candidates in Scotland at the Euro Elections in June.
However, the Conservatives have said they will not take part in hustings where the party is involved.
Tory MEP Struan Stevenson said, "The BNP are running a full field of candidates in Scotland.
"All of our candidates have agreed not to share a hustings with them. We are not sharing a platform with fascists or racists."

The right to "Freedom of speech" (as long as you stay within legal guidelines) in a democratic society entitles you to just that- the right to express your opinions, no matter how odious everyone else may find them. The right to "Freedom of speech" doesn't mean the rest of us should be forced to listen to those views or participate in any forums where those views are expressed. The Conservatibes have got it 100% right on this one.

6 comments:

wildgoose said...

Actually, I think they have got it 100% wrong.

The best way to ensure that the BNP get a sympathetic hearing is to try and shut down debate in this fashion.

I intend being a Euro-candidate and I will not indulge in such undemocratic schoolboy posturings. Let the BNP message be heard and give me a chance to tear it apart. Trying to stop this just implies that non-BNP are "running scared" and that it shows that the other parties have something to hide.

Claiming that we have the right not to hear someone's opinions at a Hustings which is expressly convened for just that purpose is just idiotic beyond belief.

O'Neill said...

The best way to ensure that the BNP get a sympathetic hearing is to try and shut down debate in this fashion.They're not saying that the BNP are not permitted to give out their message, but by sharing the platform the Conservatives would be giving the BNP the gloss of political respectabiltiy that they crave. Where the Conservatives (and the other mainstream parties) have failed is by not engaging directly those who are vulnerable to the BNP's populism- that's where the BNP are winning the battle, on the streets and round the doors, not on the hustings.

Claiming that we have the right not to hear someone's opinions at a Hustings which is expressly convened for just that purpose is just idiotic beyond belief.They (the BNP) have the right (within legal guidelines) to give their opinions at the hustings or anywhere else. I or anyone else also have a right who I decide to listen to surely?

wildgoose said...

They (the BNP) have the right (within legal guidelines) to give their opinions at the hustings or anywhere else. I or anyone else also have a right who I decide to listen to surely?Except the Tories want to take that decision for you. You may or may not have wanted to see the Tories challenge and expose the looney-left policies of the BNP such as mass nationalisation, and indeed see the Tories rebut BNP allegations made against them.

Except... Now you can't.

And what's more, they've just handed the BNP the ammunition to go campaigning on the doorstep with the message that "They're running scared, they won't debate with us because they know they can't".

tony said...

Wildgoose

What party are you standing for?

My ideals on democracy tend to disagree with the Tory stance, are they doing this perhaps as a way of avoiding awkward questions? Tactically they are doing the right thing in Scotland, slowly building bridges, the last thing they want is to be "outed" if you like by the BNP.

>>"We found a number of former SNP voters who expressed great interest in the BNP<<

If true then they are welcome to them.

The Aberdonian said...

Tony

I agree with your final line. To be honest the ward being contested is not natural SNP country anyway. It is Royal Deeside and avowedly Tory or Lib Dem. Last election it returned two Tories and one Lib Dem. It has been vacated by one of the Tories.

I could not call which party will take it. Lib Dem or Tory. TBH I would edge for the Tories if I had to put a bet on.

O'Neill said...

Wildgoose,

I can see where you're coming from but I'm be pleased to see parties, like individuals, being prepared to take such decisions on moral grounds rather than purely party political (ie by not appearing the Conservatives could also lose out to the mainstream parties).

Re what benefit boycotting them in such open forums brings the BNP, I really don't think the battle for the hearts and minds of those who may be tempted to vote for them is won and lost on such issues. The mainstream parties have been far too reluctant to get their hands dirty and combat the BNP, door to door, by engaging with the real electorate in places like Barking and the Lancashire (ex)mill towns.